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Resolve Your Business Partner Conflict NOW | Business Partnership Mastery

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Hi, this is Brett Cenkus. Today, I just got back from a mediation. I've got a

client who is in a business dispute, and we had a mediation clause that I drafted

in our original agreement. It's not a business partnership exactly, it was a

merger and acquisition. We sold the business, and my clients - actually there's two

individuals who sold the assets of a business to another, and they're both

working for the business. So it's a type of business partnership, more of an

employer-employee relationship, but you know something I'd probably call

business partnership of sorts. So we have a mediation clause and we were in mediation today.

We did not get the - we did not reach a resolution. And it was frustrating. We

thought we were going to at one point, but the parties were too far apart. And

driving home, I was thinking about that and thinking mediation is an amazing

thing. I've talked a lot about it before. I almost always put it in contracts.

There are a couple contexts in which I won't for a couple reasons, but for the

most part I put it in. Mediation is a quick process. We were there for one day.

My clients paid $1,300 to a mediator and the other side paid $1,300, so it's not

you know free or cheap, but it's relatively inexpensive and it's worth a

shot. And it doesn't often work, okay. But given what comes next, which is

litigation in our case or arbitration if you have an arbitration clause,

mediation is a shot at a quick resolution and it's a fairly amicable,

fairly informal process. But it's still, it's still not really super amicable. So

it got me thinking a little bit. If you are having a problem with a partner

right now, and this is really for business partners who have been in

business together for a while, and have some history, and some of that history is

positive, right - so there's some relationship here and things have worked

well in the past - and it's also for someone who has not spoken to their

partner about the issues recently. We all bury our head and do things in business

partnerships and marriage, you know, you can pick it up and realize, you know, we

haven't had a substantive conversation about the relationship or the

partnership or the marriage or whatever in a while. So it's kind of for that situation.

And no one's lawyered up yet, but it's not working. And you're

starting to kind of complain to people, to your part- life partner or something.

You're just, you're being, you're frustrated. Mediation today reminded me

that what you need to do right now is to email or call your partner and set a time

to meet. Set a time to meet outside the

office. Something not super formal, not super tense, and you got to have the

difficult conversation. You've got to introduce that. It doesn't have to be a

super difficult one in the beginning, you know. You could start off - instead of

"saying I'm really unhappy with you." You could say "how do you think things are

working? Are you happy? Is it working for you? How am i doing?" Right?

However you need to get into that, do it now. Because mediation is a great thing,

but we're already on a train that's heading down the wrong path, and even

though the process was amicable at times, we thought we're gonna get a deal done,

you've got attorneys on each side. It's an acrimonious process, and it's an

us-vs-them thing. We're often in our own room and we're negotiating. There's

multiple people weighing in and they're, you know, and trying hard to get a deal

done. Because litigation is a lose-lose all around. As I told my client today,

it's not their first rodeo, they've been down this path before and I said you know how this

works. If we don't get a deal done today you're gonna, you're gonna be back here

in a year. You're gonna be rode hard and hung up wet is the old saying. It's like,

you're just gonna be worked hard. You're gonna spend time and money to get back

to this point to settle. Something, I mean I heard recently that - I mean someone

told me 90% of cases in Travis County in Texas settle, but I've also heard 99% -

whatever the number is it's a lot - but what happens is the parties...they're in

their own corners, they can't make a deal work. They spend a year fighting, spending

money, coming back to the table - the table they could have been at today. The table

they could have been at a couple months ago before mediation started. Like so if

you're having a business partnership problem now and that hasn't gotten to

the point of litigation and you haven't had a heart-to-heart conversation. do it

now. There's an old proverb: when's the best time to plant a tree? It's 20 years

ago. When's the second-best time? Today And I

love that, but the point is like yeah you should have done it months ago before

you got to the point where it's strained or you're complaining to people. And if

you're thinking that, pretty good chance your partner's thinking that. And it is

possible that your partner's already started down the path of separating in

their minds. And that's you know it would be better if you had done things before

that, but you don't know that. There might be plenty of time to save it. And now,

when it's just the two of you, it's way better than when you get to this point.

It's so much easier and there's so much opportunity to save things. So if you're

having a business partnership problem now, if you haven't had that hard

conversation in a long time, if there was a partnership that worked at some point

in time, if there's some relationship to preserve, make the call now - right now.

Do you have time for lunch tomorrow, for a drink this weekend. Just lay it out

there and open up. And it's so much easier to do before it gets to the point where we

were at today. Sometimes it can't be saved.

Sometimes it's heading there already. Sometimes it's a foregone conclusion. It

doesn't always work, but it's way easier to do it now. Have the difficult

conversation before it's way more difficult to have. If you've got

questions about that, opinion on something you're dealing with or how to

navigate something, reach out to me. Business partnerships can be amazing and

they're worth trying to save if they're worth putting in place in the first

instance, so best success with it.